Orbitz Launch Among Best in E-Commerce History

The launch of online travel site Orbitz benefited from plenty of pre-launch buzz, including a false advertising and unfair competition lawsuit from Southwest Airlines, but data from Nielsen//NetRatings says it led to the biggest e-commerce launch since 1999.

During the month of June, Orbitz attracted 2.07 million unique at-home visitors, Nielsen//NetRatings found. When adding at-work visitors, the number climbs to 3.7 million unique visitors. Orbitz itself reports it has surpassed the 1 million registered user mark, and that travel sales have topped $100 million since the launch.

The 2.07 million at-home visitors in June represented an increase of 1.9 million visitors over May, the final month of its beta test period. By comparison, the re-launch of Walmart.com in October 2000 generated an increase of 1 million household visitors over its pre-launch month. K-Mart’s launch of BlueLght.com increased by 862,000 visitors in December 1999; Target.com added 392,000 additional visitors in August 1999; and Hotwire saw an additional 123,000 visitors during its November launch.

“Orbitz’ succeeded in bringing very high levels of traffic in June — the month the company officially launched. Traffic to the site has grown faster than any major e-commerce launch we’ve seen during the past two years,” said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst, e-commerce at NetRatings.

Also helping the Orbitz launch was its debut during the summer travel season and an hourly sweepstakes promotion that gives away a pair of air travel tickets, scheduled to run from June 4 to July 15.

Top E-Commerce Site Launches Since 1999
Site Launch Date Unique Audience Growth
During Launch Month
Orbitz.com June 2001 1,914,000
Oct. 2000 1,042,524
Kmart/Bluelight.com Dec. 1999 862,858
eBaymotors.com April 2000 862,858
Target.com Aug. 1999 392,317
USPS.com April 2000 352,975
Oldnavy.com April 2001 345,181
Britannica.com Oct. 1999 276,960
Hotwire.com Nov. 2000 122,790
Half.com Jan. 2000 116,717
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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